Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

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This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.

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E.g., 09/22/2021
E.g., 09/22/2021

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a diminished capacity instruction with respect to a charge of discharging a firearm into occupied property that served as a felony for purposes of a felony-murder conviction. Because discharging a firearm into occupied property is a general intent crime, diminished capacity offers no defense.

Although the defendant met his burden of production with respect to diminished capacity in this murder and assault case in which the defendant stuck various persons with a vehicle, the State introduced sufficient evidence of specific intent to kill. The State did not present expert witnesses. Rather, the State’s evidence focused on the defendant's acts before, during, and after the crime as showing that he had the specific intent to kill necessary for first-degree murder based on premeditation and deliberation and the other felony assaults. The State’s evidence showed for example that the defendant specifically targeted the victims and that he did not just hit them and drive on but rather continued to injure them further after the first impact.

In a murder case, the trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s request for a jury instruction on diminished capacity. The defendant had argued that he was entitled to the instruction based on evidence that he suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome, alcohol dependence, and cognitive impairment resulting from a head injury, causing him to possibly overreact to stress or conclude that deadly force was necessary to deal with a threatening situation. The court found no evidence casting doubt on the defendant’s ability to premeditate, deliberate, or form the specific intent to kill necessary for guilt of first-degree murder on the basis of malice, premeditation, and deliberation.

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